A Brief History of First Baptist Church

On Thursday, October 4, 1860, one month before Abraham Lincoln was elected to his first term as President, the Benton Baptist Church was organized with ten charter members. Elder D.M. Green was the first pastor and also the commissioner for Marshall County Schools. During the War Between the States and Reconstruction the church struggled to get and maintain members. Initially the church only met once a month so the Methodist and Baptist congregations shared a mutual building. In 1868 the Christian Church also became part of that mix. They met in what was called the Union Church building which was located on what we now call Olive Street. In those early days the three congregations worked together to meet the needs of the citizens of Benton.

During the 1890’s this cooperation among the churches changed as first the Methodist congregation built a building, and then the other two congregations followed suit. Benton Baptist Church proceeded to purchase the lot on the corner of Tenth and Main, and on November 18, 1894, they dedicated a new building. By the time the 1920’s arrived the church had a membership of 252. The church did start the Memorial Baptist Church in the early 1930’s. The name of the church was officially changed from Benton Baptist Church to the First Baptist Church in July, 1948. At approximately the same time the basement was dug under the old sanctuary.

The 1950’s were a time of great growth as many members were added and new construction began. In 1954 the church built the two-story educational building, and then they followed this in 1957 by erecting a new auditorium which they built over the existing structure. The church continued to grow throughout the decade and on into the 1960’s. At this time, they added a radio ministry in 1968. The 1970’s witnessed the largest average Sunday School attendance in the history of the church as the church ran a successful bus ministry that had a positive impact on the community and the church. With this growth came the need to purchase the adjacent property to the north of the building and remodel it for use as a fellowship hall and additional classroom space. A number of remodeling effort took place over the next two decades.

In the early 1990’s the attendance had dipped below 200, but during the past fifteen years the church has seen a resurgence in attendance with a return to 300 in Bible Study and 400 in worship. As the church grew, it became necessary to acquire the remainder of the block and construct a new multipurpose building which serves as a gym, fellowship hall, and educational space for all ages. The church dedicated this new building and the improvements to the old building in November, 2003. The church is now acquiring property to the north of the present property to make way for future expansion. The new building has proven to be a wonderful tool to expand ministries to youth, children, and preschoolers. A week day preschool was started as well as Awana and Upward Basketball. During this time frame the church has increased her mission’s activity by sponsoring the start of The Journey Church on the campus of Murray State University as well as being involved in missions locally and around the world.